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Holidays: It's Okay if It's Not Merry or Happy

It’s that time of year again when everyone around us seems to believe it’s the best time of the year … But I am here to deliver an alternative message to you:


Dear very important person,

Congratulations! You have survived another year of living in this strange, uncomfortable reality of an ongoing pandemic. Throughout this year you have shown much grace, compassion and strength. And now the holiday season has returned once again. Here are just a few friendly reminders that I wanted to impart to you as we enter into the thick of holiday season.


1) You are allowed to hate the holidays. Whether you are spending the holidays with family, friends, acquaintances or alone, the holidays can be a difficult time for many of us. Far from being the best time of the year, it can bring up a lot of hard feelings to hold, such as loneliness, isolation, anxiety, sadness, dread, resentment - feelings that don’t really align with the “holiday spirit” that everyone else is talking about. (Which, ironically, can bring up further difficult emotions such as guilt, shame and ostracism…) Anyways, point is, you don’t have to love the holidays or like it. Heck, you can even hate it! It can be hard to feel that way when holiday music is playing everywhere and everyone is wishing you a happy holiday, but if that “holiday cheer” isn’t really resonating with you, that is okay.


2) Self-care and self-preservation are not selfish. Repeat after me: self-care and self-preservation are not selfish. If you need some quiet time from your rambunctious family, go ahead and take it. If you need to step away from a relative or friend who makes you feel drained or bad about yourself, do it. If you would rather be alone or spend time with a good friend instead of visiting your family members who like to stir up drama, go for it. You protecting yourself and your energy is not selfish.


3) You are enough. Even if Grandma or Aunt make some off-colored comment about your weight. Even if you’re currently single and all of your siblings have brought home a significant other. Even if your cousin recently bought a nice house and you’re still struggling to pay off loans. Even if your old friend is getting married and recently got promoted, and you’re just trying to keep it together. It’s okay. You are enough simply for existing in this moment. And I’m so happy that you are here with me, in this moment, simply being.



 

May Lam, Therapy Intern is a final year graduate student at Boston College's School of Social Work. Her style of therapy is client-centered, warm and relational. May seeks to foster an environment of compassion, trust and collaboration with her clients and believes in letting them guide the sessions.


May has had a range of clinical experiences, from working as a counselor on a crisis hotline to working as a social work intern with youth at a Boys & Girls' Club. She continues to be humbled by her clients' resiliency and honored by their willingness to be vulnerable with her.



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